Our choices make us who we are, and who we are not.

On certain mornings I have to make a difficult decision to get out of bed and put on my running attire. Occasionally, the rainy weather exempts me from this tough choice. Today, I made the effort to go for a run. The weather was nice, and I trained briefly for a physical test that I have to take in the coming months, being an operationally-ready serviceman in the army. For readers not familiar with the compulsory military service in Singapore, I am not in the army, but if need arises I will be called to arms. That choice is not mine to make.

Nevermind that. Back home, I took a refreshing cold shower, and started my daily ritual of having breakfast. I bought half a loaf of sourdough from Maison Kayser yesterday – an option that I have always avoided. After a couple of months of access to Poilâne bread in Paris, I fear for tasting bad bread in Singapore. At last, I took the option, and while I was disappointed with the service crew’s incompetence at slicing the loaf at my request, the bread itself was pretty decent.

I had intended to put up a review of this rather pricey loaf. I switched on the computer, visited Facebook, only to see multiple posts offering condolences to someone who has passed away. Someone of my age, someone from the same high school. I didn’t know who it was, because the condolences left the name out. What first caught my attention was that there were so many ‘likes’ on such posts. Why do people even ‘like’ such posts?

Public grief has its role to play, yet does it require acknowledgment with Facebook ‘likes’? While I pondered over this question, I stumbled upon one of such post that included the name. It was someone whom I knew; we were club-mates for four years. Almost immediately the wave of grief hit me, with some guilt mixed in. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal choice – whether to grief privately or publicly or acknowledging it. It will be distasteful and disrespectful to argue about such matters for the friend who has left us.

RIP Peter.


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